What Would A Vince Young-Led Houston Texans Team Look Like?
Let’s get this out of the way: It ain’t gonna happen. The Houston Texans declined to acquire the services of Vince Young back when he was the hottest quarterback prospect in the 2006 NFL Draft and they were being helmed by the reviled David Carr, who had led the team to a 2-14 record the previous season. Young’s got no familiarity with the system or the coaching staff, he hasn’t played in a regular season game since December 2011. There’s no reason to believe that any team is going to be seriously considering the now-thirty-year-old former Longhorn at this point in his career. And for good measure, it’s worth noting that Houston Chronicle beat reporter John McClain says the team isn’t considering major changes, and singles out the potential shift to Young as one that won’t be happening.
But still, it’s hard not to ask “what if?”. The Texans’s quarterback situation is as bad as it’s ever been—entrenched starter Matt Schaub is a broken shell of a man who has thrown more passes that players on the other team have returned for touchdowns than any quarterback in history has at this point in the season. When he suffered an injury in last week’s humiliating home defeat to the previously-hapless St. Louis Rams, off-the-bench replacement T.J. Yates, who the fans had previously been clamoring for, promptly threw an interception-returned-for-a-touchdown of his own. The only other quarterback on the roster is undrafted rookie Case Keenum, a University of Houston product who many observers didn’t believe had the size, durability, or skill to play the position for an NFL team.
So if the team did scrap the trio of passers currently under contract and turn to Twitter to see who was offering their services, what would they look like?
Young, the unemployed Houston native who is still regularly retweeting fans who want him to sign with Houston, hasn’t played in a regular season game since 2011. That year, he started three games for the Philadelphia Eagles as a backup to injured quarterback Michael Vick. The team went 1-2 in those games, and eventually finished the season 8-8. But he hasn’t been completely out of the league; after a forgettable stint with the Buffalo Bills in the 2012 preseason, he returned to Austin to finish his degree at the University of Texas. He also underwent a bit of image rehabilitation with the help of ESPN’s Skip Bayless, made the unprecedented move of working out at Texas’s Pro Day despite being years into his NFL career, and eventually found himself invited to Green Bay for a workout with the Packers.
That workout went well, and Young was signed to a one-year deal. On the field during the preseason, it worked out well, too—in the limited duty that he saw, Young played well enough to attract attention from the press, engineering a nice drive in the Packers’ third preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks. It was executed well enough that the following day, the Packers released the player previously expected to back up starter Aaron Rodgers. It looked good for Young, but the team cut him as part of their move to 53 men. General manager Ted Thompson took the blame, saying that he should have been signed earlier, and that “it wasn’t fair to Vince” to bring him in so late in the process. (The team eventually signed Seneca Wallace, who played in similar systems in Cleveland and Seattle.)
So while it’s possible that, one sharp-looking preseason drive aside, Young just isn’t very good at football these days, it’s also possible that he is. Supporters point to the 31-19 win/loss record that Young has over his NFL career, and those are hard numbers to argue with. His 2009 season, in which he came off the bench for the Tennessee Titans after the team’s 0-6 start to go 8-2, demonstrated that he wasn’t just an early-career fluke of a player.
Young’s decision-making has been questionable throughout his career, though teammates praised his improvement in that area during his brief stint in Green Bay. Still, Texans fans probably couldn’t expect that he’d be a massive improvement over Matt Schaub and T.J. Yates in that regard—Titans and Eagles fans have spent plenty of time cursing at their TV after a boneheaded Vince Young interception, too. Would he throw a pick-six in every single game? Probably not, but this wouldn’t be the Broncos under Peyton Manning here.
Young would bring mobility to the position, though, which would help out a struggling offensive line. Schaub and Yates have been sacked a total of seventeen times, good for seventh-most in the league, while Young’s ability to move in the pocket and his six-foot-five frame mean that he doesn’t tend to go down easily. That mobilty would also help open things up for the Texans’ duo of quality running backs in Arian Foster and Ben Tate.
Still, the running quarterback fad of last year has faded in the current season, as teams studied ways to stop the read-option offense during the offseason. Scramblers like Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III are spending more time in the pocket, and Young wouldn’t likely convince coach Gary Kubiak to change his offensive philosophy. (Matt Schaub has one scramble on the season, for five yards, good for 35th in an NFL with 32 teams.)
When it comes to accuracy, meanwhile, Young would be a step down from Schaub—something that probably makes Texans fans’ teeth itch to read. Schaub, despite his tendency to throw the ball to players on the other team who are in a position to run it back for a touchdown, is actually one of the better passers in the NFL in terms of his accuracy—he’s completed 64.4 percent of his passes this season, which is remarkably consistent with his career percentage of 64.3 percent. (Yates has completed 68.2 percent of his passes, good for sixth in the league among players who’ve thrown at least eight times.) Young, meanwhile, was 26 of 49 in Green Bay, and has a career percentage of 57.9 percent.
So would the Texans be a better team under Vince Young? That’d be a hard argument to make. One thing’s for sure, though: They’d be more fun. Schaub’s struggles are the sort that eventually even get boring for fans of the other team—at some point, watching a guy make terrible decisions over and over again doesn’t even feel sporting. Young, for all his career struggles, has always been a dynamic player. He’s proven in his preseason stint with the Packers that he can still run, and he’s never had a target like Andre Johnson before, which might help him with his accuracy. There might be a lot of balls hitting grass if Vince Young were to take over the team, but there’d also be a lot of action.
The odds that Vince Young would make the Texans better are long, but the odds that they’d be more watchable are pretty high. If you can’t win—and the loss to the Rams makes it clear that this Texans team, right now, can’t win—you might as well be fun to watch. And Slim Thug would be psyched—as would the guys who recorded the songs below.